How The Turnbull Government Lost Control Of The House

The absence of nine members of the Coalition caused the Turnbull government to lose control of the House of Representatives for nearly two hours last night.

House

When a procedural motion to adjourn the House was put at 5.00pm, the ALP surprisingly voted No and called for a division, which it won by 69 votes to 67. The ALP then took control of the proceedings of the House and initiated a debate on a Senate resolution calling for a royal commission into the banking system.

Over the next 45 minutes, the government lost two more divisions and did not regain control of the House until 6.50pm, after coalition MPs were brought back into the chamber.

It was the first time since 1962 that a majority government has lost votes in the House of Representatives. Like the Turnbull government, the then Menzies government also governed with a one-seat majority. [Read more…]


Minutes After Turnbull Launch, ALP Releases Its Election Costings

The ALP has released its election costings, projecting that they would balance the Budget in 2020-21, the same year as the government.

The Opposition’s “Fiscal Plan” proposes $10.5 billion more savings than spending over the decade. However, the Budget bottom line will be $16.5 billion worse over the 4-year Forward Estimates.

The ALP says: “The more modest fiscal consolidation over the forward estimates of around 0.2 per cent of GDP per year (on average) is more than made up for by Labor’s structural savings over the medium term. Labor’s approach to budget management has fairness at its core, and will not seek to fix the Liberals’ budget mess by attacking family budgets. We will budget transparently and honestly.”

The costings were released in Sydney by the Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, and the Shadow Finance Minister, Tony Burke. The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, is in Gladstone. The release was announced during Prime Minister Turnbull’s campaign launch and took place at 1.00pm, shortly after Turnbull finished.

The costings document is shown below. [Read more…]


Senate Voting Reforms Passed By Both Houses

The House of Representatives has given its approval to the final version of the bill to reform the Senate’s voting system.

After an all-night debate that finally concluded at 2.30pm on Friday afternoon, the Senate voted to approve the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016. The bill abolishes group voting tickets and introduces optional preferential voting above and below the line.

The House of Representatives remained on stand-by to confirm amendments passed by the Senate. It met at 3.07pm.

  • Watch the House proceedings (26m)

Hansard transcript of House of Representatives proceedings.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth—Prime Minister) (15:07): I move:

That the amendments be agreed to. [Read more…]


Truss: Search Fails To Find Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370

The Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, has announced that the Australian co-ordinated search for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean has failed to find the plane.

Truss

Speaking in the House of Representatives, Truss said the next phase of the search would begin in August and focus on an area that could be as big as 800 kilometres in length by 70 kilometres wide. The search would take approximately 12 months. [Read more…]


Condolence Motions Make For Heartfelt Start To Parliament

Proceedings in the House of Representatives got off to a prickly start today with the government goading the ALP during condolence motions for Arthur Gietzelt and Ariel Sharon.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott set the tone when he moved a motion of condolence for the former Senator Gietzelt who died on January 5 at the age of 93.

Abbott

During his speech, Abbott said: “He was a lion of the Labor Party—or at least he always asserted that he was a lion of the Labor Party and of no other party.” The Labor benches bristled at the comment and as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten rose to speak a voice could be heard describing Abbott as a “low dog”.

Abbott’s comment was a reference to allegations in documents released by the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIO) that claimed Gietzelt had communist connections during his time as a member of the ALP. Gietzelt served as a minister in the Hawke government from 1983 to 1987.

Following the Gietzelt condolence, Abbott moved a second condolence motion for former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who died on January 11 after spending eight years in a permanent vegetative state following a stroke in 2006. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to the motion, as did Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his deputy, Tanya Plibersek.

After the speeches, the Manager of Government Business, Christopher Pyne, associated himself with what he called “the genuine and heartfelt remarks” by Abbott, Bishop and Shorten, “and the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition”.

The Opposition benches bristled again, with the comment assumed to refer to a statement made by Tanya Plibersek in the House on September 17, 2002, in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. She said: “…I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions, whose ruler is a war criminal responsible for the massacres of civilians in refugee camps outside its borders. The US supports and funds this country. This year it gave it a blank cheque to continue its repression of its enemies. It uses US military hardware to bulldoze homes and kill civilians. It is called Israel, and the war criminal is Ariel Sharon.” [Read more…]


Opposition Reacts To MYEFO; Claims Hockey Is Softening Up Electorate For Budget Cuts

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke have responded to the government’s release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.

Bowen said that MYEFO showed that $10.2 billion of the $17 billion blowout in this year’s deficit is down to decisions taken by the government since the election. The major component of this is a payment of $8.8 billion to the Reserve Bank to bolster its reserves.

Bowen

Bowen said: “Joe Hockey is softening up the Australian people. He’s preparing the ground for deep and brutal cuts come Budget time, cuts to come which will affect every Australian.”

Tony Burke said that the government had added $167 million a day to Australia’s deficit since the September election. [Read more…]


Greens Strike Deal With Abbott Government To Abolish Debt Ceiling

With just days to spare before the debt limit needed to be increased, the Australian Greens have struck a deal with the government to abolish the ceiling.

Once labelled “economic fringe-dwellers” by the Coalition, the Greens have stolen a march on the ALP by negotiating a deal that reshapes the debt debate and sidelines the Opposition.

Greens leader Senator Christine Milne told a media conference that the agreement allows for increased parliamentary scrutiny of government debt. An automatic ministerial statement and parliamentary debate will take place whenever a $50 billion increase in debt is undertaken. There is no provision for the parliament to disallow a debt increase. [Read more…]